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Bucket List Item #2: Make Homemade Bread

Seeing as how I decided to start with the absolute most momentous item on the list (i.e. give birth), anything that follows is bound to be a bit underwhelming.

The activities on my 30 Things To Do Before Turning 30 list are all over the map in terms of excitement and commitment. So my second check mark on my list went to one of the more mild items – making homemade bread.

I don’t own a bread-making machine so I’d need to knead and prep the dough and bake the loaf. I also decided that I needed to pick a bread that used yeast, as opposed to something a little easier like banana bread or pumpkin bread.

This was the perfect opportunity to try out a Pinterest find that caught my eye. The recipe I picked was for focaccia bread, and I would be adding different chopped herbs and veggies to give it an artistic presentation.

Thank goodness I bought three packets of yeast because it would definitely take me more than one try to get it right! Working with yeast is new to me, and the recipe I followed didn’t give as many details as it needed to.

To set the scene – I’m a new mom to a 3 week old who needs round-the-clock feedings and attention. Her nap times are often a debate between getting a shower, a load of laundry and tidying, or a much needed nap. To give myself the 2+ consecutive hours in the kitchen to pay attention to my bread was a treat I welcomed and appreciated! I had pre-pumped a bottle of milk and handed off parenting duties to Zeb. In the first 20 minutes, Zeb had called me to come look at Brynnley or ask me a question about eight times and all I had accomplished in 20 minutes was chopping a bell pepper.

“Okay, for the next two hours……I. am. not. here,” I told him. I grabbed my headphones, turned on a psychology podcast episode, and tuned out my cute little family in the living room which I love so much but also fully enjoyed my mini little break doing what was so normal for me pre-baby.

I mixed my active dry yeast packet with a cup of warm water, then added the sugar, oil, flour, salt and herbs as instructed. What I would learn later on is that the temperature of the warm water is actually pretty specific and very important. “Warm” doesn’t mean turn on the tap and anything between scalding and ice water is fair game. Apparently, yeast pairs only with 110 degree water; anything too hot or too cold = game over, try again.

I had let my fair weather batch of dough sit for an hour to rise, but it was the same size when I returned. I decided to bake it anyways, which resulted in a sheet pan-sized cracker. Albeit, a very pretty cracker. It also still tasted very flavorful since it was full of thyme, oregano, rosemary, and sea salt.

Life with a newborn baby meant I wasn’t able to reattempt my bread again for another four days, but this time I found a more specific recipe and used a kitchen thermometer to test my “warm” water. I had run out of the small enough portions of purple onion for my beautiful topping but still had tons of peppers and capers.

After garnishing the top of the bread dough, we had plenty of fresh veggies leftover. We also had some hummus & some $4.99 red wine from Costco – the perfect makings for an at-home happy hour. It was a random Wednesday night but I’m on maternity leave, so who cares what day it is?! Zeb and I let the baby rock in her swing and played Phase 10 at our dining room table while listening to some country music and inhaling the sweet herby scent of fresh bread in the oven. The smell of a successful second attempt. Bucket list item number two: complete.

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